Martí's Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad
By Emma Otheguy
Illustrated by Beatriz Vidal
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma,
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma.
As a boy, José Martí was inspired by the natural world. He found freedom in the river that rushed to the sea and peace in the palmas reales that swayed in the wind. Freedom, he believed, was the inherent right of all men and women. But his home island of Cuba was colonized by Spain, and some of the people were enslaved by rich landowners. Enraged, Martí took up his pen and fought against this oppression through his writings. By age seventeen, he was declared an enemy of Spain and forced to leave his beloved island.
Martí traveled the world, speaking out for Cuba’s independence. But throughout his exile, he suffered from illness and homesickness. He found solace in New York’s Catskill Mountains, where nature inspired him once again to fight for independence.
Written in verse, with excerpts from Martí’s seminal Versos sencillos, this book is a beautiful tribute to a brilliant political writer and courageous fighter of freedom for all men and women.
Check out educator lesson plan and activities for Marti's Song for Freedom, a title featured in RIF’s Multicultural Book Collections. To find other free activities that inspire young readers as well as learn more about Reading Is Fundamental, visit us at RIF.org.
About the Creators
Emma Otheguy is a children’s book author and a historian of Spain and colonial Latin America. She is a member of the Bank Street Writers Lab, and her short story “Fairies in Town” was awarded a Magazine Merit Honor by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Otheguy lives with her husband in New York City. This is her picture book debut. You can find her online at emmaotheguy.com. .
Beatriz Vidal is an award-winning painter, illustrator, and teacher. Her work has appeared in well-known publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Woman’s Day, and the New Yorker. Her artwork has also been featured on PBS programs and in numerous exhibitions around the world, including the International Exhibition of Illustrations for Children in Italy and the Society of Illustrators in New York. Vidal divides her time between New York City and Buenos Aires, Argentina. You can visit her online at beatrizvidal.com. .